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Courtesy of Grace Wang

Not every senior is rushing around in a suit preparing for On Campus Recruiting events. According to a recently released report, Penn is the No. 1 medium-size school and the top Ivy League institution for sending graduates to Teach for America’s 2015 corps.

Grace Wang, a 2013 college graduate, joined TFA directly after graduation and has been teaching at a Cleveland school for three years now. Wang chose to continue to teach 4th and 5th graders English at Alfred A. Benesch Elementary, a public school in Cleveland where TFA initially sent her to for the two-year program.

The program allows Wang to find value in her post-graduation job.

“I valued it a lot because I think sometimes after graduation, there’s a bit of career identity crisis where you don’t know what you give back or the point of the job,” Wang said of her initial decision. “For TFA, it was very clear from the start — you’re helping kids who are in underserved and underprivileged condition in schools that have difficulty hiring.”

Though appreciating the opportunities bestowed by TFA, Wang thinks that the program has great potential for growth and improvement, especially in the realm of training and preparation. “I don’t think they adequately prepare you for the job. There is very little behavioral management training, you don’t really know how to teach, you don’t really have the instructions on lesson plans and how to deliver content,” Wang said, mentioning her “frustration of wanting to do well and not having the tool.”

Wang has enjoyed her experience teaching at local schools thus far. “Definitely getting to know my students would be the part that I liked the most and is very memorable,” Wang said. “Knowing that they love and respect you and that you can go there every single day to change or shape their future? That drives you. that motivates you. That means a lot.”

TFA invests many efforts in advertising its presence on Penn’s campus, and Wang finds it to be effective in reaching out to potential candidates. She also credited friends and alumni networks as useful resources for helping her finding the position for Teach For America, mentioning Penn’s atmosphere for community service. “We have the reputation of being the Social Ivy, and we care about people and the community around us," she said. 

According to Wang, TFA has a comprehensive, though not exhaustive, application process, during which the applicants need to finish an online application form, conduct a phone interview, an on-campus interview and a 5-10 minute teaching presentation.

This summer, Wang worked at the Cleveland Metropolitan School District as the charter law and policy intern. “It changed my life’s path a lot,” Wang said. “I was previously going to law school, and my career ambition was basically living in Manhattan and make a lot of money.”

In the coming years, Wang hopes to continue her involvement with education.

“I think [TFA] has changed my life a lot and that I have been living with a purpose now. I really want to do something that is involved with helping to fight educational inequality.”

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